Despite the global challenges presented by COVID-19 in 2020, BerryWorld Group’s overall performance held strong, thanks to the business’ robust proprietary varietal offering, expertise in online retail (particularly in the UK), and the inherent nature of the business selling a healthy product.
"Certain areas of our business were more impacted than others, for example our ready-to-eat business, PrepWorld, was affected by a drop in on-the-go demand, as schools and offices closed for a significant proportion of 2020, said Adam Olins, BerryWorld Group CEO. "The business, however, was recognised by the industry for its fast-paced response to the outbreak, ensuring the factory remained safely open throughout to continue to serve customers. The overall result is one we are proud of and is thanks to the hard work of all our employees, our growers, retailers, and partners."
To date, 2021 has been positive in terms of performance, although not without its challenges for the company. As lockdowns eased across the globe and consumer confidence rose again, the business benefitted, albeit with a shift in behaviours such as the move to online, which the business was well positioned for.
"The impact of COVID and Brexit, however, has presented significant challenges labour availability for both our growers and our own growing and manufacturing businesses. The associated UK haulier shortages, coupled with the fuel crisis, and rising energy and freight prices, have all challenged our supply chains to operate more innovatively.
"We have largely experienced later seasons across the majority of our international marketing desks; however, our strategic alliances with our retailers and strong relationships with our growers have enabled us to effectively manage shifting seasons along with the above challenges. The outlook for the coming months remains positive, as global demand for berries continues to grow and our international marketing desks continue to mature in traditionally underserved markets.
As an integral part of the business, BerryWorld continues to focus their efforts on varietal development to consistently improve their best-in-class proprietary portfolio for their consumers, customers, and growers alike.
"Whilst traditional breeding continues to be a part of this varietal development, we are increasingly investing both upstream in biotechnologies & downstream, in propagation cycles & plant supply.
New packhouse in The Netherlands
"In terms of capital investments, our new packhouse in The Netherlands is now fully operational, providing an end-to-end service to our growers and European customers. Meanwhile, in the UK, our PrepWorld business is amid the development of a new, dedicated prepared fruit facility in Kent, presenting expansion opportunities for the business.
"Looking at our Australian business, our joint venture partner Piñata Farms, have expanded into Tasmanian production, an improved climate, and have continued to increase our exclusive strawberry supply. Meanwhile, we have also signed an agreement to grow, market and distribute BerryWorld branded berries in New Zealand. In America, we continue to expand the production of our proprietary varieties with increased raspberry plantings in Mexico."
The company has also seen significant increases in domestic sales in South Africa, as popularity for blueberries grow year on year.
"By the time the season ends BerryWorld will have seen around 15% growth year on year on blueberries out of RSA and Zimbabwe. This is slightly down on pre-season estimates, but still very healthy growth, which we are pleased with," said Stefan Viljoen, Sales Manager, Berry World South Africa.
The blueberry picking for export will continue until the middle of January and continue with local market sales until mid-February.
"We pride ourselves on developing a year-round exclusive offer of the best tasting berries" explains Adrian Olins, CEO, BerryWorld division.
"With regards to blueberries, it is our goal to bring the best size, flavour and texture to the market, 52 weeks of the year. For the Southern hemisphere, we believe that South African grown MBO varieties, exclusive to BerryWorld, are best in class. Chilean MBO is performing well and helping bridge the traditional gap between Southern and Northern hemisphere production. The Moroccan season, dovetails well with South Africa and we have already started supply of BerryWorld® Eureka Sunrise®, widely considered the best blueberry variety from Southern Morocco. From Morocco, we move North, through Spain and Portugal and then dovetail with early Zimbabwean production, closing the annual supply loop. Furthermore, we are increasing our MBO Northern highbush plantings across Europe to supplement summer blueberry production with similar quality. Over the last decade, in developed berry categories, flavour, size and texture have been core attributes driving consumer choice and loyalty; we believe that a best in class, year-round varietal offer is key to developing berry markets around the world.
"BerryWorld works with our existing international grower base to expand supply and continues to investigate new areas for production, with particular interest in Africa."
BerryWorld 2021 Highlights
"2021 has been a successful year for BerryWorld Group as we continue to grow internationally whilst remaining a high-performing, award-winning, and sustainable business," continues Adam Olins, BerryWorld Group CEO.
"In January, two of our proprietary raspberry varieties (see image 2) from the BerryWorld Plus programme, were awarded Superior Taste Awards by the International Taste Institute in Brussels.
"In March, our European distribution centre, located in Made in The Netherlands, was recognised for its sustainable build and design with a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ certification, a top award for environmentally friendly design.
"Throughout 2021 we have continued to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability, launching our BerryWorld Group Sustainability strategy. We have been actively involved in numerous projects to continue to minimize our environmental impact, including tracking and reducing our carbon footprint, optimizing our water usage and our supply chain, investing in innovative packaging solutions, and fighting food waste with our charity partners."
Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, BerryWorld UK and its growers have donated the equivalent of over half a million meals to those in need, with our charity partner, FareShare. They also extended their efforts into Spain and started to donate the surplus fruit from the R&D site to a local association which provides meals to over 150 people every day.
"Heading into 2022, sustainability remains integral to our business, and we look forward to building on the successes of 2021."
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